I made my first visit down the Garden State Parkway last night to Belmar, NJ to finally catch a glimpse of some of the new Seton Hall Pirates. While Aaron Cosby was unavailable due to the fact that he was flying back to the area, Fuquan Edwin, Aaron Geramipoor, Brandon Mobley and Sean Grennan were all in uniform for Seaview Jeep on Tuesday night at St. Rose High School.
Upon first glance, the gym was, well, small. Seats are in two tiers on the near sideline and they come pretty much right up to the court (you know I had to get a front row seat, of course). From that vantage point, here are the player-specific things I noticed, along with their stats from the win, Seaview Jeep's first in the JSBL regular season:
Fuquan Edwin (28 PTS, 13 REB)
Fuquan looked fantastic last night, pouring in point after point and using his athleticism to not only score but rebound as well. The game was very much up and down (a typical summer league game), and Edwin's athletic advantage over every player on the floor allowed him to dominate. He was, after all, recruited by Gonzo, and for the first time, I saw him in an open court game similar to how he would have fitted in Gonzo's style of play. He shined the brightest of the Seton Hall players involved in the blowout win.
Not only that, but 'Fu' has clearly been in the weight room. A wiry athlete in his freshman campaign, Edwin has added approximately 20 pounds of muscle (from a visual observation), which will help him on defense and on the boards. He didn't have the strongest finishes at the rim, which can be attributed to the athletic advantage he had. I would expect the added muscle will improve this as the regular season approaches.
The one negative was that he often chose not to move his feet on defense, choosing rather to try and use his athleticism to block the ballhadler's shot from behind. It should be noted that he was successful on one of these occasions, but better rotation when guarding the ball would help. But I'm really picking nits with this one- he really had a terrific game.
Aaron Geramipoor (14 PTS, 10 REB)
Geramipoor looks like a completely different player, physically and game-wise. Physically, Geramipoor was a shell of himself last season due to a bout of mononucleosis. But he was still able to clog the paint when he did play, and was great defensively even in Big East play, when his presence against Georgetown and UConn really helped the Pirates.
Well, he's back to what I assume was his old self physically, and perhaps he's even put on more muscle than he had before his illness. Geramipoor was the tallest player on the court by a wide margin, so he did grab some boards that way. But many more of his rebounds were under duress from the opposing players, and he had several tough offensive rebounds and putbacks among his 14 points.
Most of his production came in the 3rd quarter, where the offense was almost Geramipoor-centric. He scored on a couple post-ups, the rebounds and putbacks, and he even ran out in transition for a couple scores. Now, Geramipoor still needs work on his aggressiveness on those putbacks around the rim, and his athleticism could be upped a bit, but I think that for all the attention Herb Pope has gotten (and rightfully so) for his return from illness, it could be Geramipoor's return to health that will matter more to the Pirates, especially against the bigger front lines of the Big East.
Sean Grennan (8 PTS, 3-8 FG, 0-4 3pt FG)
Grennan was up and down in this game. He is instantly recognizable because of his blonde locks and generally easygoing demeanor on the court (he never once showed emotion one way or the other). Grennan had trouble shooting from deep on offense tonight, but there was more to his game than that. His defense was good focus-wise, and it got better as he played. He ran out in transition willingly, and knows how to finish reverse-style at the rim (all of his points were on layups, two reverse and one really nice lefty drive in which he finished with an up-and-under layup that drew some 'oohs' from the crowd).
What Grennan needs to work on is a) his strength, and b) his play without the ball. Grennan had the ball in his hands a lot at Monsignor Donovan, and on this team, he is an off-guard (former Notre Dame star Kyle McAlarney and St. Peter's guard Brandon Hall are the point guards). He didn't show it, but he liked the ball in his hands more in this game, which it was down the stretch since the game wasn't close.
However, Grennan definitely has the confidence and the shooting ability to have a game or two this season where he surprises everyone and drops 15 or 17 on an unsuspecting opponent. He certainly doesn't look like he means business on the surface, but this kid can play, and with some development, he'll be a nice player for Coach Willard and the program.
Incomplete- he picked up two early fouls and was sidelined for the rest of the game with a dislocated shoulder (he had full range of motion after the game, so no harm done). What I did see of Mobley is that he is wire-thin, and has the range on his jumper to be a stretch-4. He also knew what to do when guarded by a smaller player, posting up to open the game. Hopefully, when I return to Belmar next Tuesday night, I can see more and report back.
The team was down big in the first quarter, but Grennan, Edwin and Geramipoor (along with some focus on defense) led Seaview Jeep back in the game and eventually turned the game into a one-sided rout. The Pirate fans in attendance saw some good basketball from their guys, and the word that can sum up what I saw tonight is: progress. It was nice to see that the team has clearly been working since the season ended to get better, and that's what the offseason is all about.
More to come next week!